The brain's sense of self predetermines what you do, when you do it and why you do it, all without you having conscious awareness of all the comings and goings that make you, you. Scary right? Yes and no. Let us have some fun exploring the science and reality of Yes and No.
No, it’s not scary its practical
You are born.
You don’t have a clue how to do anything.
You solve this by copying others:
They build, you break.
They build, you build.
They speak, you squeak.
They speak, you speak.
They do, you try.
They do, you do.
They dress, you run around naked.
They dress, you dress.
They teach, you learn.
That’s the life of a kid, for some the life of the adult and round the circle of life goes till we are putting nappies on our parents and telling them off and helping them dress.
So no, it’s not scary, the brain simply needs to know how to do something and once it does it becomes an automatic habit and we have millions of habits and we wouldn’t be able to leave the house everyday if we had to think consciously about how to dress, brush our teeth, pour cereal into a bowl, eat, drink, talk and walk. All habits get loaded into the unconscious mind and we are all set.
It’s just practical, the mind needs experience to know what makes you, you and that becomes your how, your what and your why.
Yes, it’s scary, it's practical
Let’s start where No ended ‘your why’ as your why is your preferential bias, it is:
How you pick friends
How you trust
How you love
How you judge
How you pick
How you buy
How you engage
It’s so much more than dressing and eating a sandwich. The person you are, is it more than a habit?
The truth is that the brain doesn’t judge good or bad, it just takes in inputs that we experience in life and critically most of this occurs mainly during the first two forming stages of the brain:
0-7 years old Behaviours
7-14 years old Habits
This isn’t just the practical actions of dressing and eating, it is also preferences, music, people, life, judgement, bias, emotions and all the connected dots that make up the psychology of the person. The brain works all of these factors the same way it does as an action orientated habit.
The brain automates so much of life to make it as easy as possible for us to think about only what matters, which the unconscious mind decides based on the same reasoning and the same build of the mind.
It’s scary when you think that your judgement of others, of doing, of avoiding, of trying is all based on your childhood. Not to say the brain can’t override, adapt or change those habits but it tries it best not to, it is set up for efficiency and if you don’t this consider the phrase:
Nobody likes change
This is true, we humans resist change simply because of the structure and nature of the efficient mind. The more it understands the more it automates us, that is the job of the unconscious, it exists to be as efficient as possible.
When we consider a swapping let’s say an apple for our regular Coffee break muffin, why is it so hard to do?
The brain resists it because it’s not swapping one habit, it’s likely to be 1,000 different neural pathways that link to the reason you eat a muffin which can be anything from the sugar hit chemical release, to your taste bud addiction, to a poor dietary habit, to a need for reward or because food is a cuddle to you. If you had to judge changing 1,000 things just to get a perceived gain you consciously wouldn’t do it. What we think of as lazy, is actually just natural efficiency of how the brain is constructed.
When it comes to shopping the same is true, we have preloaded preferences.
A quick test:
Do you prefer Armani or Burberry or neither?
Do you prefer Top Shop or Next or neither?
Do you prefer Nudie or Diesel or neither?
Do you know why?
You may be able to come up with an answer to the last question but the reality of your brand preferences and all others answers sits deep within your past experiences which your brain has turned into your brand preferences, it’s become as automatic to you as tying your shoelaces.
Brand preferences are a habit inside your brain, we shop based on how the unconscious mind has defined self. Brand & shopping preferences come more in your 14-21 year old forming of the brain, it’s more the build of your adult choice architecture from sexual to clothing. It’s much like a database or yes and no’s until you arrive at your preferences.
You consciously think about buying those Nudie jeans but only after your unconscious has checked your database to confirm it’s a brand you favour and should engage with. It’s not scary, it’s just the practical logic of the mind and how it helps us live. The more relevant the brands and products are to your existing database of experience the happier you will be, that’s why adverts on our phones can annoy us, it’s not what you want, care for and definitely not what you prefer.
The efficiency trick will always be with you, it’s the brain's job, there is no good or bad, there is just a natural need to automate as much as it can.
We will continue to explore this in future articles, it's such a fascinating and multidimensional beast of being human.